When chat apps rule, firms need more than getting a word in

Guray Ozturk

Guray Ozturk —INFOBIP

In a world where brands and consumers can connect simply by sending each other messages through countless chat apps, one thing is certain—businesses need to get in on the discourse about conversational messaging’s role in achieving great customer experience.

In its recent “Messaging Trends 2024” report, global cloud communications platform Infobip reveals that consumers are looking for a deeper connection with the brands they buy from, and are doing so through conversational messaging channels.

After analyzing over 473 billion digital conversations on its platform in 2023 between businesses and consumers, Infobip saw a 137-percent increase in mobile app messages compared to 2022, a 73-percent rise in social media messages, and a 63-percent increase in chat app messages.

As a provider of communications platform-as-a-service, Infobip equips its clients with a single, omnichannel messaging platform that allows them to seamlessly interact with their customers across different messaging channels and apps, as well as social media.

In the Philippines, Infobip discovered that Viber stands as a strong player, with a 34-percent increase in interactions on the app in 2023; along with SMS (37 percent) and email (32 percent).

Across the globe, the recorded increases in usage of Messenger, Viber, and Line are at 541 percent, 146 percent, and 284 percent, respectively.

However, despite the channel, app, or social media website, Infobip says one thing is certain —customers want to have two-way conversations with their brands that come with personalized service and support.

“Our data shows how conversational experiences are rapidly spreading across the globe as businesses roll out marketing, sales, and support use cases. Where 2022 revealed a spike in omnichannel adoption when brands recognized the importance of connecting with their customers on their preferred channel, 2023 shows how brands are perfecting the end-to-end customer journey,” says Ivan Ostojić, chief business officer at Infobip.

“Customers can now seamlessly progress through a journey within a single conversational thread on a chat app or rich communication service,” says Ostojić.

Generative AI

This is where conversational AI now plays a big role, says Guray Ozturk, head of Infobip’s banking, financial services, and insurance and digital business in the Asia-Pacific region. Thanks to the introduction of generative AI technology, businesses have the power to respond to customers’ needs more efficiently, without compromising on their offer of more personalized experiences.

“Back then, a chatbot was either intent- or keyword-based. When you ask something, you are offered certain options. Now, with the integration of generative AI, the chatbot is going to talk to you just like a human being,” Ozturk explains.

“If a bank wants to have a funny bot, we can do that, but, if, say, you lost a credit card or debit card and would like to cancel it, the bot can detect sentiment and switch its tone,” he says.

This kind of solution, Ozturk says, enables companies to operate their customer service 24/7, and enhances their overall digitalization—a must in today’s tech-driven world, where falling behind on the latest innovation means potentially damaging one’s business growth.

Beyond customer service, Ostojić also shares other opportunities for conversational AI. “In the next year, we foresee the widespread adoption in customer service, marketing and sales automation, and for operational use cases like scheduling deliveries and managing payments.”

Human factor

Of course, introducing AI, as with any technology, will already have an impact on any company’s manpower, and he doesn’t mince words—the use of conversational AI will shake up the workforce.

“It is already proven that AI can do certain things better, in certain industries. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a lot of people will be unemployed or jobless,” Ozturk says.

He says that the advancement of technology will create new job opportunities, to set everything up and make sure that it works in the right way.

“There will be new industries. Big enterprises will be creating new departments, and we have been observing this for the last decade. Every organization now has a digital department operating on their own,” Ozturk adds. “What is really important for an individual here is to be adaptive.” —CONTRIBUTED